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                                                  Space Debris

Satellites fail—collision with space debris is inevitable

Shelton 11 Commander, Air Force Space Command, ―Remarks from the 27th National
Space Symposium‖ United States Space Command. April 18, 2011

And we're challenged with maintaining situational awareness in space. Our existing SSA capabilities, space
situational awareness capabilities, currently track over 20,000 objects right now. We catalog those routinely
and keep track of them. That number is projected to triple by 2030, and much of that is improved sensors,
but some of that is increased traffic. Then if you think about it, there are probably 10 times more objects in
space than we're able to track with our sensor capability today. Those objects that are untrackable, yet they
are lethal to our space systems -- to military space systems, civil space systems, commercial -- no one's
immune from the threats that are on orbit today, just due to the traffic in space. Smaller satellites, more
debris, more debris begets more debris, unfortunately, from a probability point of view. More debris is
going to run into more debris, producing more debris. So you get the point.

Collision is extremely probable
Florida Today 2005 from Elaine Liston, archivist. ―Chronology of KSC and KSC
Related Events for 2005,‖ NASA, Feb 2006

A new NASA risk analysis is raising fears the shuttle could stand a higher chance of being destroyed by
space debris than previously thought. Steve Poulos, manager of Orbiter Projects Office at Johnson Space
Center in Houston, acknowledges there is ―a debate‖ inside the agency about the threat posed by space
debris. One school of thought is that a fatal debris strike is ‗probable,‖ Poulos said. But he said others think
such an event is likely to be ―infrequent.‖ Space debris, including bits of rock, pieces of old satellites
and other trash, often collide with the shuttle as it circles Earth but usually causes no serious harm. Before
the Columbia disaster, NASA estimated the spacecraft stood only a 1-in-500 chance of being destroyed by
space debris. That‘s well below the shuttle program‘s goal of 1-in-200 chance. But an analysis dated April
26 places the odds that orbital debris could destroy the next shuttle at a range from 1 in 54 to 1 in 113. The
change in the risk estimate stems from recent tests showing that the shuttle‘s heat shield is more fragile
than NASA had realized. Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch July 13 on a mission to the International
Space Station. NASA has taken steps to protect Discovery from space debris once it is in orbit. [―NASA
study raises odds of fatal space-debris strike,‖ Florida Today, June 8, 2005, p 1A & 5A.]

More evidence

Shelton 08 Lieutenant General William, Commander, Air Force Space Command,              Joint functional component command for
space, in a statement before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Senate Armed Services Committee on Space Posture. March 4,

Access to space and space products becomes cheaper and more widely available every year. The
commercialization of space has allowed many developing nations and non-state actors to acquire space-
based capabilities such as imagery and satellite communications that were previously the exclusive purview
of superpowers. With more space players, space is more crowded than ever — we currently track over
18,000 man-made objects, to include everything from active satellites to debris. The potential for a
catastrophic collision in space increases as the number of objects increase. Finally, the kinetic ASAT threat
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is not the only threat to our space assets. The capacity to jam satellite communications links is within the
capability of many nations, as well as non-state actors. Space-related ground sites can be damaged by direct
attack. Several nations are working on high-energy lasers that could damage or destroy our satellites. The
potential proliferation of nuclear weapons is also a threat to space systems. Such a device could cripple our
space assets with the persistent effects of an exo- atmospheric electromagnetic pulse. With the exception of
the high-energy laser, all of these threats to our satellites exist today. Clearly, we can no longer view space
as a sanctuary.

Space debris destroys satellites and communications on earth—turns case

Blake 11 (Heidi, investigative reporter for The Daily Telegraph, Journalist of the Year in 2010, ―Space
so full of junk that a satellite collision could destroy communications on earth,‖ The Telegraph, February 1,

The volume of abandoned rockets, shattered satellites and missile shrapnel in the Earth‘s orbit is reaching a
―tipping point‖ and is now threatening the $250 billion (£174bn) space services industry, scientists said. A
single collision between two satellites or large pieces of ―space junk‖ could send thousands of pieces of
debris spinning into orbit, each capable of destroying further satellites. Global positioning systems,
international phone connections, television signals and weather forecasts are among the services which are
at risk of crashing to a halt. This ―chain reaction‖ could leave some orbits so cluttered with debris that they
become unusable for commercial or military satellites, the US Defense Department's interim Space Posture
Review warned last year. There are also fears that large pieces of debris could threaten the lives of
astronauts in space shuttles or at the International Space Station. The report, which was sent to Congress in
March and not publicly released, said space is "increasingly congested and contested" and warned the
situation is set to worsen. Bharath Gopalaswamy, an Indian rocket scientist researching space debris at the
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, estimates that there are now more than 370,000 pieces of
junk compared with 1,100 satellites in low-Earth orbit (LEO), between 490 and 620 miles above the planet.
The February 2009 crash between a defunct Russian Cosmos satellite and an Iridium Communications Inc.
satellite left around 1,500 pieces of junk whizzing around the earth at 4.8 miles a second. A Chinese missile
test destroyed a satellite in January 2007, leaving 150,000 pieces of debris in the atmosphere, according to
Dr Gopalaswamy. The space junk, dubbed ―an orbiting rubbish dump‖, also comprises nuts, bolts, gloves
and other debris from space missions. "This is almost the tipping point," Dr Gopalaswamy said. "No
satellite can be reliably shielded against this kind of destructive force." The Chinese missile test and the
Russian satellite crash were key factors in pushing the United States to help the United Nations issue
guidelines urging companies and countries not to clutter orbits with junk, the Space Posture Review said in
May. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) issued Space Debris Mitigation
Guidelines in 2009, urging the removal of spacecraft and launch vehicles from the Earth‘s orbit after the
end of their missions. Mazlan Othman, director of UNOOSA, said space needs "policies and laws to protect
the public interest". He added: ―We should have all the instruments to make sure that lifestyles are not
disrupted because of misconduct in space when people switch the television to watch the World Cup next
month in Johannesburg."

Even small shards are capable of devastating million dollars worth of
EarthSky 11 (Award winning science think-tank, ―Space debris a growing
problem,‖ June 30, 2011,
A scare triggered by orbital debris that came within a couple of hundred yards of the International Space Station (ISS) on June 28,
2011 sheds light on a worsening problem. Millions of chunks of metal, plastic and glass are whirling around Earth –
the garbage left from 4,600 launches in 54 years of space exploration. The collision risk is low, but the junk travels at such high
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speed that even a tiny shard can cripple a satellite costing tens of millions of dollars. The U.S. Space
Surveillance Network tracks roughly 16,000 objects bigger than four inches across, while 19,000 are
known to exist. There are approximately 500,000 pieces ranging in size between half an inch and four
inches (1 to 10 cm), while the total of particles smaller than half an inch “probably exceeds tens of millions,”
according to the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office website. The rubbish originates primarily from old satellites and upper stages
of rockets with residual fuel or other fluids that explode while the pieces turn in orbit. But there are other sources, including these: The
accidental collision of American and Russian communications satellites in 2009. The intentional destruction of the Chinese weather
satellite Fengyun-1C by China in 2007 for the purpose of testing an anti-satellite weapon in 2007. In May 2009, a four-inch chunk
from Fengyun-1C passed within 1.8 miles (3 km) of the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis, prompting plans for evasive maneuvres that
proved to be unneeded. Collisions have included these: In 2009, a disused Russian military satellite, Cosmos 2251, smacked into a
U.S. Iridium communications satellite, generating a debris cloud. In 2005, the upper stage of a U.S. Thor launcher hit debris from a
Chinese CZ-4 rocket. In 1996, a fragment from an exploded Ariane rocket launched in 1986 damaged a French spy micro-satellite,
Cerise. In 1991, a Russian navigation satellite, Cosmos 1991, collided with debris from a defunct Russian satellite, Cosmos 926,
although this event came to light much later, in 2005. In June 1983, the windscreen of the shuttle Challenger had to be
replaced after it was chipped by a paint fleck just 0.01 inch (0.3 mm) across that hit at 2.4 miles (4 km) per
second. In low Earth orbit (approximately 100 to 1,240 miles above the Earth‘s surface, or 160 to 2,000 km), which is where the
ISS is deployed, debris impacts at around six miles (10 km) per second. An aluminum pellet just .04 inch (1 mm)
carries roughly the same kinetic energy as a baseball fired at 280 mph (450 kph). To cope with such threats, the ISS
has substantial shielding but depends on maneuvering to get out of the way. In low Earth orbit, debris is a relatively short-term
problem. Below 373 miles (600 km), the material falls to Earth, where it usually burns up in the atmosphere. Whatever isn‘t burned
up most likely will fall into the oceans or other sparsely populated regions. During the past 40 years, an average of one cataloged piece
of debris fell back to Earth each day. No serious injury or significant property damage caused by reentering debris has been
confirmed. The greatest concentrations of debris are found around about 500 to 530 miles above Earth (roughly 800 to 850 km).
Beyond 500 miles, orbital decay is measured in decades, but beyond 620 miles (1,000 km), the debris will orbit the planet for a
century or more. Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States have issued guidelines for mitigating the debris problem, such as
designing satellites and spacecraft so they can de-orbit rather than drift in space. Leading space agencies have also formed a panel to
address the problem, and the U.N.‘s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) is discussing the issue. Bottom line:
Orbital debris that came within a couple of hundred yards of the International Space Station (ISS) on June 28, 2011 shed light on the
issue of space debris and its danger to spacecraft and satellites.

Lack of satellite defense and decrepit Russian satellites risks accidental
nuclear war
Graham 05 (Thomas Jr, internationally known authority in arms control agreements on WMDs and
senior US diplomat, ―Space Weapons and the Risk of Acidental Nuclear War,‖ Arms Control Today,
December 2005

The United States and Russia maintain thousands of nuclear warheads on long-range ballistic missiles on
15-minute alert. Once launched, they cannot be recalled, and they will strike their targets in roughly 30
minutes. Fifteen years after the end of the Cold War, the chance of an accidental nuclear exchange has far from
decreased. Yet, the United States may be contemplating further exacerbating this threat by deploying missile interceptors in space.
Both the United States and Russia rely on space-based systems to provide early warning of a nuclear attack.
If deployed, however, U.S. space-based missile defense interceptors could eliminate the Russian early warning satellites quickly and
without warning. So, just the existence of U.S. space weapons could make Russia‘s strategic trigger fingers itchy. The potential
protection space-based defenses might offer the United States is swamped therefore by their potential cost: a failure of or false
signal from a component of the Russian early warning system could lead to a disastrous reaction and
accidental nuclear war. There is no conceivable missile defense, space-based or not, that would offer
protection in the event that the Russian nuclear arsenal was launched at the United States. Nor are the Russians or other countries
likely to stand still and watch the United States construct space-based defenses. These states are likely to respond by developing
advanced anti-satellite weapon systems.[1] These weapons, in turn, would endanger U.S. early warning systems, impair valuable U.S.
weapons intelligence efforts, and increase the jitteriness of U.S. officials. The Dangers of Failed Early Warning Systems The
Russian early warning system is in serious disrepair. This system consists of older radar systems nearing
the end of their operational life and just three functioning satellites, although the Russian military has plans to deploy
more. The United States has 15 such satellites. Ten years ago, on January 25, 1995, this aging early warning network
picked up a rocket launch from Norway. The Russian military could not determine the nature of the missile or its
destination. Fearing that it might be a submarine-launched missile aimed at Moscow with the purpose of decapitating the Russian
command and control structure, the Russian military alerted President Boris Yeltsin, his defense minister, and the chief of the general
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staff. They immediately opened an emergency teleconference to determine whether they needed to order Russia‘s strategic forces to
launch a counterattack. The rocket that had been launched was actually an atmospheric sounding rocket conducting scientific
observations of the aurora borealis. Norway had notified Russia of this launch several weeks earlier, but the
message had not reached the relevant sections of the military. In little more than two minutes before the
deadline to order nuclear retaliation, the Russians realized their mistake and stood down their strategic
forces. Thus, 10 years ago, when the declining Russian early warning system was stronger than today, it read this single small
missile test launch as a U.S. nuclear missile attack on Russia. The alarm went up the Russian chain of command all the way to the top.
The briefcase containing the nuclear missile launch codes was brought to Yeltsin as he was told of the attack. Fortunately, Yeltsin and
the Russian leadership made the correct decision that day and directed the Russian strategic nuclear forces to stand down.
Obviously, nothing should be done in any way further to diminish the reliability of the space-based
components of U.S. and Russian ballistic missile early warning systems. A decline in confidence in such
early warning systems caused by the deployment of weapons in space would enhance the risk of an
accidental nuclear weapons attack. Yet, as part of its plans for missile defense, the Pentagon is calling for the development of
a test bed for space-based interceptors as well as examining a number of other exotic space weapons. In an interview published in
Arms Control Today, Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, director of the Missile Defense Agency, touted what he said was ―a very modest and
moderate test-bed approach to launch some experiments.‖ Obering said the Pentagon would only deploy a handful of interceptors:
―We are talking about onesies, twosies in terms of experimentation.‖[2] Despite Obering‘s claims, however, establishing a test bed for
missile defense in space, as opposed to current preliminary research, would be a long step toward space weaponization. Once space-
based missile defenses are tested, they are likely to be deployed, and in significant numbers, no matter if the tests are successful. To
see the path that a space test bed is likely to follow, one need only look at the present ground-based program: the Pentagon claims
there is little true difference between a test bed and an operational deployment. Moreover, in space the deployment could be more
dramatic. Although the current ground-based configuration envisions a few dozen interceptors, continuous space coverage over a few
countries of concern would likely require a very large number of interceptors because a particular interceptor will be above a
particular target for only a few minutes a day. Today‘s missile defenses provide very little real protection as the United States
currently faces no realistic threat of deliberate attack by nuclear-armed long-range missiles. But space weapons could actually be
detrimental to U.S. national security. They would increase the perceived vulnerability of early warning systems to attack and cause
Russia and perhaps other countries such as China to pursue potentially destabilizing countermeasures, such as advanced anti-satellite
weapons. These dangers would be particularly worrisome for those components that are placed in geosynchronous orbits (GEO).
Space objects in GEO are sufficiently far from the Earth (about 36,000 kilometers) so that their speed roughly matches the rotational
speed of the Earth and they remain ―stationary‖ above one location. To be sure, any country that can place a satellite in these farther
orbits—and there are several—could potentially threaten another country‘s satellites there. Yet, it would be easier to do so, and
perhaps more importantly, the threat perception would be greater with weapons based in space than with existing ground-based
technology. The 15 U.S. early warning satellites are almost entirely in GEO . The three functioning Russian early
warning satellites utilize two different orbits. Two of the satellites use a highly elliptical orbit, which ranges from low-Earth orbit
(LEO)—100 to 2,000 kilometers above the Earth where space objects travel at about 8 kilometers per second—out to GEO. The other
satellite is permanently stationed in GEO. Moreover, a space arms competition could hinder the flow of satellite imagery that can be
used to track activities that might reveal programs to develop weapons of mass destruction in countries of concern. For example,
activities detected through space-based collection systems can be used to trigger requests for inspections pursuant to the Chemical
Weapons Convention (CWC) (implicitly) or the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (explicitly), should that treaty be brought
into force. It is important in this respect to recall that the suspicions that Israel and South Africa may have conducted an atmospheric
nuclear test in 1979 were driven by readout from a U.S. VELA satellite. Similarly, the United States has benefited from
the revolution in national intelligence that began with and is based on photographic reconnaissance
satellites and related systems, which has helped bring to an end the worst-case analysis and close calls with
nuclear war that existed throughout the Cold War. If a truly peaceful and stable world order is ever achieved, the advent
of this technology beginning in the late 1950s will be regarded by future generations as a major historical turning point. These are
crucial efforts that must never be allowed to be disrupted, either by space-based weapons or with the relatively simplistic ground-
based anti-satellite weapon systems that could today be deployed. The United States has considerable anti-satellite weapons capability.
An F-15-based homing vehicle system was successfully tested in the 1980s, and the anti-ballistic missile system currently being
deployed in Alaska and California has an inherent anti-satellite capability. Right now, no other country is developing a
counterspace system, although the Soviet Union successfully tested a co-orbital anti-satellite system in the 1970s and 1980s and
Russia and China are believed to be capable of doing so.

Debris collision risks Russian miscalculation and nuclear war

Lewis 04 (Jeffrey, Ph.D in International Security and Economic Policy, Director of the East Asia
Nonproliferation Programat the James Martin Cneter for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute
of International Studies, ―What if Space Were Weaponized? Possible Consequences for Crisis Scenarios,‖
Center for Defense Information, July 2004,

By 2010, the United States may, in fact, have an arsenal of ASATs (perhaps even on orbit 24/7) ready to
conduct these kinds of missions to coerce opponents and, if necessary, support preemptive attacks. Moscow
would certainly have to worry that these ASATs could be used in conjunction with other space-enabled
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systems for example, long-range strike systems that could attack targets in less than 90 minutes -- to disable
Russia's nuclear deterrent before the Russian leadership understood what was going on. What would
happen if a piece of space debris were to disable a Russian early-warning satellite under these conditions?
Could the Russian military distinguish between an accident in space and the first phase of a U.S. attack?
Most Russian early-warning satellites are in elliptical Molniya orbits (a few are in GEO) and thus difficult
to attack from the ground or air. At a minimum, Moscow would probably have some tactical warning of
such a suspicious launch, but given the sorry state of Russia’s warning, optical imaging and signals
intelligence satellites there is reason to ask the question. Further, the advent of U.S. on-orbit ASATs, as
now envisioned could make both the more difficult orbital plane and any warning systems moot. The
unpleasant truth is that the Russians likely would have to make a judgment call.

Space debris causes environmental radiation and ozone depletion

Seymour 98 (Jennifer M, ―Containing the Cosmic Crisis: A Proposal for Curbing
the Perils of Space Debris,‖ 10 Geo. Int'l Envtl. L. Rev. (1997-1998) HeinOnline.
pp. 897-8)
In addition, scientist Andrei Konradi has suggested that the introduction of debris into the near-earth
environment has altered "[h]igh-energy proton fluxes in the Van Allen radiation belt."'46 Using data about
the debris environment in near-earth orbit, Konradi's study found that projected impacts between protons
and debris particles would shorten the lifetimes of such protons, which could affect the radiation
environment in near-earth orbit.47 Konradi's conclusion was based on data obtained ten years ago, not
reflecting the significant increase in commercial uses of space that has prompted concern about the orbital
debris issue.48 Thus, the risk would likely be even more serious if current data were considered. Finally, at
least one author has suggested that extensive use of the earth's atmosphere to burn up space objects, either
intentionally or incidentally, could damage the upper atmosphere.49 This concern does not reflect current
conditions but predicts a possible side-effect of the number of current and future space objects that could
become debris.
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                                                  AT: Space Debris

Status-quo solves: Russia and other countries are building garbage collectors,
nets, and lasers to clean up debris
Voice of Russia 11, (The Russian Government‘s radio broadcasting service, By:
Boris Pavlishchev, ―Garbage collector to go into space,‖ The Voice of Russia, July
14, 2011
Russia‘s Energia Space Corporation is developing a manned spacecraft to repair satellites in the orbit and
sweep up satellite debris from space around the Earth. The spacecraft will be launched from the Vostochny cosmodrome
in 2015. The spacecraft will take a two-man crew who will make space walks and replace blocks of the satellites or use a mechanical
hand to do so. The cosmonauts will fly for two weeks, says a consultant to the president of the Energia Corporation, Victor Sinyavsky.
The defunct satellites pose great danger. They should be collected into a special vehicle and drowned them
in the ocean on earth. This method will help to clean up the space from debris . Some 600 thousand fragments of
satellites and rockets measuring from one centimeter and more are flying around the Earth. Specialists are monitoring the trajectories
of 19 thousand large fragments weighing several kilograms. However, a tiny piece might pierce a space suit of a cosmonaut. The
growing amount of space debris is becoming more acute every year. Consequently, the International Space
Station has consistently been monitoring them. It declares an emergency situation almost each week . The
new spacecraft can gather several large fragments that may pose a threat to the ISS. It‘s difficult to say how many pieces of debris it
can collect because they fly at various orbits and the spacecraft has a limited amount of fuel for manoeuvres. According to Victor
Sinyavsky, such a ship is capable of cleaning the geo-stationary orbit, which is over populated with functioning and defunct satellites.
When the defunct satellites are removed, the price of free space for one satellite is estimated at 20-50 million U.S. dollars and the
telecommunication companies will willingly buy these places. The western countries are also developing projects to
fight against space debris. They suggest taking defunct satellites to a higher orbit than the geo-stationary one
or gather debris using a super-light net released by satellites. Another one is to direct a laser to a fragment
and with the release of vapour, the fragment shifts to a lower orbit and will fall to the Earth due to
gravitational pull. For one, when the ISS crew lost their bags with instruments during space walks, their burned particles fell on
the Earth after a few months. The American Vnaguard-1 launched in 1958 is the first defunct satellite. It will pose a threat in orbit for
another 200 years. The first ever collision of debris and a satellite was reported in 1996. A fragment of a French satellite broke away
from it and hit another French satellite. The ISS is still carrying out manoeuvres to escape a blow from a fragment of an old Chinese
satellite, which is left after China tested its anti-missile defence system in 2007. In 2009, An American satellite collided with a defunct
Russian satellite. This was the first ever collision of two satellites. Although this has not happened again, it‘s high time to develop a
system to clean up outer space from debris.

Status quo solves: Japan is sending a space net in the next two years
The Telegraph 11 (―‘Fishing net‘ to collect space debris‖, by Danielle Demetriou
and Peter Hutchison, February 2, 2011,
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Nitto Seimo Co aim to tackle the increasingly hazardous
problem of rubbish in orbit around the Earth damaging space shuttles and satellites once and for all . Last
year, a US report concluded that space was so littered with debris that a collision between satellites could set off an ―uncontrolled
chain reaction‖ capable of destroying the communications network on Earth. It is estimated there are 370,000 pieces of space junk.
The Japanese plan will see a satellite attached to a thin metal net spanning several kilometres launched into
space. The net is then detached, and begins to orbit earth, sweeping up space waste in its path. During its
rubbish collecting journey, the net will become charged with electricity and eventually be drawn back
towards earth by magnetic fields – before both the net and its contents burn upon entering the atmosphere.
It is likely the nets will target the orbital paths of space shuttles which are constantly monitored for debris.
It is thought that the net will remain in orbit for several weeks, collecting enough rubbish to make the trip
financially worthwhile, before sending another net into space . Inspired by a basic fishing net concept, the super-strong
space nets have been the subject of extensive research by Nitto Seimo for the past six years and consist of three layered metal threads,
each measuring 1mm diameter and intertwined with fibres as thin as human hair. The company, which became famous for
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inventing the world‘s first machine to make strong knotless fishing nets in 1925, is
                                                                            aiming for the fuel-free system to be
completed within two years. As many as ten million pieces of human-made debris are estimated to be
circulating in space at any one time and the issue has long been a cause for concern, because of the
potential for collisions with satellites and shuttles. The majority of the debris in space is believed to consist of small
particles but some objects are larger, including spent rocket stages, defunct satellites and collision fragments. The US Defence
Department‘s interim Space Posture Review 2010 found that the volume of abandoned rockets, shattered satellites and missile
shrapnel in the Earth‘s orbit is threatening the £174 billion space services industry. Scientists said that a single collision
between two satellites or large pieces of ―space junk‖ could send thousands of piece of debris spinning into
orbit, each capable of destroying further satellites. Global positioning systems, international phone connections, television
signals and weather forecasts were among the services at risk of being disrupted, according to the report. In 2006 the Atlantis shuttle
was hit by a small fragment of a circuit board which created a small hole through the radiator panels in the cargo bay. British scientists
welcomed the plans yesterday but voiced concern. Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, a space scientist, said: ―I‘m glad someone is doing
something about it because space debris is extremely dangerous. This sounds like a fairly straight forward solution and I think it could
work if used properly. ―However, I am slightly apprehensive as the net will have to be used carefully because we wouldn‘t want a real
satellite getting caught up in the net.‖

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